TV: Motherland, Episode Two, BBC2/iPlayer

It's been pretty canny of the BBC to put this whole series out on iPlayer straight away. Let's face it, how many stressed mums are going to feel like having their knackered lives played back to them at 10pm after the kids have finally been superglued into their beds. With iPlayer they can watch it when they are in the mood. But I'd advise everyone to watch it pretty soon, it's hilarious, if a bit painful to watch for parents.

The second episode revolves around a school fundraiser. Julia (Anna Maxwell Martin), Liz (Diane Morgan) and stay-at-home dad Kevin (Paul Ready) find themselves roped in to help. It's a bit of a running gag that they are the outcast parents. Whenever there is a meeting going on in the local cafe (a dead spit for one near me, except there are more prams blocking the door at mine) they always find themselves excluded and have to muscle their way in to find out what is going on.

For Liz this is just a case of pouring lots of booze into the punch. Kevin has the drippy idea of becoming a human cloakroom), which he is destined to live to regret. But Julia gets into a complicated situation when she bumps into an old – now much more successful – former colleague at the gates and finds herself doing more for the fundraiser than she bargained for. 

The set-up then is pretty mainstream. It could almost be something out of The Good Life or Fawlty Towers, with rivalries and class boundaries always there in the background. The dialogue here, from Graham Linehan, Helen Linehan, Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh, is superb even if sometimes it feels as if they have simply transcribed their own school gate chats.

There is nuance but also room for broad comedy. The fundraising auction is an opportunity for some laugh-out-loud embarrassing moments, many of them courtesy of Diane Morgan's increasingly sozzled Liz. Lucy Punch as alpha female Amanda also pulls off being both recognisably real and comedically larger-than-life, running the auction as if it is on Comic Relief and being broadcast to the nation. If you are or you've been a parent you'll love it, but you'll be watching it through your fingers. 

Tuesdays at 10pm, BBC2. Or watch now online here.


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